I Have To, but I Don’t Want To

by | Mar 14, 2023 | Personal Growth

Since Yvette’s away on vacation this week, today’s blog post is a sweet story from our fabulous program support diva, Lynn 🙂 Enjoy!  

At the end of last year I decided I wanted to start lifting weights.  I want to feel stronger in my body.  I want to exert physical effort that feels like I’m moving in a healthy direction. I want to do something that is purely for myself.  As a result, I started working with a trainer–every Tuesday and Thursday morning we meet in her gym, and I learn over and over again what an amazing tool my body can be.

But something interesting happens every Monday and Wednesday evening.  As I prepare for bed and look over the schedule for the following day, I often hear the little voice in my head say “You have to go to weight training in the morning”.  When this happens, I can feel a pit develop in my stomach and an internal resistance heating up my core.  Examining weight training as something I have to do because it’s on my calendar, or because I’ve said I would, or because it’s a commitment I’ve made to myself, isn’t quite enough motivation to get me to want to go.  The “You have to” seems to kill the desire I have to follow through even on the things I know I want.

When I started replacing the “I have to go to weight training in the morning” with the deeper needs surrounding my choice to start lifting in the first place, I began to feel the motivation rising from a deeper place.  No longer do I tell myself that I have to DO anything.  Instead, I connect my desire for increased strength, mobility, health and wellness with the routine I’ve put in place for myself on Tuesday and Thursday mornings.  I use this strategy as an internal motivator for all sorts of tasks:  I see mundane house chores as tasks that allow me to live into my desire for order and predictability.  Cooking a healthy dinner allows me to meet my need for creativity and contribution to others.  My routine phone calls to family are opportunities for me to increase my connection.

Ironically, the idea that we “have to” do something–even things we prefer and enjoy doing– can actually end up demotivating us, for two main reasons:  

  1.  “Have to” beliefs don’t connect us to our internal authority. Beliefs imposed upon us by cultural and societal demands can actually usurp our own sovereignty.  It is the connection to our own inner knowing that drives internal motivation, not demands placed upon us by outside forces.
  2. Humans have a deep need for freedom and choice.  Over time, decisions and choices that are externally imposed become unsustainable.  It is a part of the human condition to want to do what we think is best for ourselves, and while we may be able to complete imposed obligations in the short term, those demands can breed resentment and are often untenable.  

It’s the “have to’s” that can generate stress, anxiety, and feelings of helplessness and confinement.  When we feel that our choices are limited, we can stop thinking critically about what’s important to us and our lives, and often we’re left feeling listless and lethargic.

The magic lies in what needs are met when we act in accordance with our deepest desires.  By connecting my actions to align with my needs and my own internal authority, I’m able to  motivate myself in ways that feel powerful, choiceful, and joyful.  It’s one of the many ways we can overcome helplessness.

Interested in hearing more?  Here’s a clip where Yvette talks about this very idea.

Transforming “I Have To”

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